Crop Biotech Update

CRISPR-Cas9-mediated Approach Improves Photosynthesis in Rice

February 8, 2023

Frontiers in Plant Science reported that editing two genes involved in light-harvesting in rice could improve photosynthesis. Experts from the Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS), the University of California at Berkeley, Utah State University, and Texas A&M University conducted the study.

To compete for light, plants overproduce chlorophyll in the leaves. This leads to the high absorption of light, which is an effective technique to out-compete other plants in the community. However, it impedes the transmission of sunlight to lower leaves and limits photosynthesis in dense agricultural canopies.

The researchers used CRISPR-Cas9 to engineer rice plants with truncated light-harvesting antenna (TLA) via knockout mutations to individual antenna assembly component genes CpSRP43, CpSRP54a, and its paralog, CpSRP54b. They analyzed the impact of the said components in photosynthesis based on various parameters, including growth rates, quantum yield of photosynthesis, chrolophyll density and others.

Results showed that mutations in any of the genes studied led to reduced chlorophyll content and light absorption and improved quantum yield photosynthesis. The findings provide insights into the improvement of high leaf-area-index crop monocultures.

Find out more in the Frontiers of Plant Science.

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